Mar 03 2010
Military Personnel Subcommittee: A Review of DOD's Process for Assessing the Requirements to Implement Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
|Statement of Chairwoman Susan Davis
Military Personnel Subcommittee
A Review of the Department of Defense Process for Assessing the
Requirements to Implement Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
|March 3, 2010|
“Today the Subcommittee will hear testimony about the Department of Defense process for implementing a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
“The President has made clear that this fundamental injustice should not be tolerated. Now, Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen have set in motion a study group to determine what needs to be done to implement repeal of this law. They have called for a comprehensive examination, and this issue deserves no less.
“When it comes to repeal, the question is not whether – but how and when. The President and our civilian and military leadership in the Pentagon have stated the need for repeal. A majority of Americans now see repeal as not only in our national security interest but also in standing with the principles of America. I would ask those who oppose repeal to join us on the right side of history.
“I understand and support the position of our civilian and military leadership that comprehensive analysis should accompany any decision of this importance, to include outreach to service members and their families to ensure we understand all perspectives on the issue.
“The purpose of this hearing is for the witnesses to help the Subcommittee understand what you want to learn and how you plan to become better informed about any possible challenges surrounding repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Since the Department does not customarily poll service members before making tough personnel decisions, we need to know what type of information you are seeking that will allow the Department to craft and implement a policy that will be successful.
“While I appreciate the intent of this review, I believe the evidence would suggest a quicker solution is possible, and indeed necessary. Public opinion supporting repeal is strong. Yet, as the public’s tolerance for open service grows, so to do the financial and readiness costs of a policy that removes members of the volunteer force, many with critical skills, at a time when other service members are seeing repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Our NATO allies serving beside us in Afghanistan and other nations have moved to accept the service of openly serving men and women and have experienced no loss in unit cohesion and combat readiness. Finally, the 1993 Rand study on the strategy needed to successfully implement repeal provides a blueprint that can be quickly updated to fit today’s environment.
“In my view, part of this blueprint should include a moratorium on discharges while the Department decides how to implement repeal. I was disappointed that the Secretaries of the Military Departments and the Service Chiefs viewed a moratorium on separations during the study process as potentially disruptive.
“I believe there is a way to stem the tide of these painful and unnecessary discharges, especially those instigated by third parties, and avoid subjecting the force to confusion about the direction of the policy. Sound, positive leadership can and will be the key to bringing an end to the separation of gay men and lesbians, and ensuring that readiness and unit cohesion do not suffer as a result.
“To assist us in understanding the repeal process, we are fortunate to have the top personnel official at DOD and co-chairs of the working group tasked with the responsibility to fulfill Secretary Gate’s call for a comprehensive study.”